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Connectivity & Communications Posts - Page 15

ConfirmedTT: Microsoft to retire Messenger, force 100M+ users over to Skype in Q1 2013

Fans of the Windows Live Messenger will be sad to hear that the service will be retired in Q1 2013. Existing users of Messenger will be shepherded towards Skype, which will give the communications platform a large boost in user base. Skype has roughly 280 million monthly active users, so an additional 100 million will be a large increase.

 

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Windows Live Messenger is on the down swing of product life. Last year, it was reported that Messenger had over 300 million monthly active users, not Microsoft is planning 100 million to be shifted, which is a massive drop from its peak. This shift will boost Skype's user base by roughly 36 percent, that is if everyone agrees to switch.

 

Some will likely be disappointed in the fact they are being forced to switch to Skype. However, there are some good, non-trivial reasons to use Skype over Messenger. Quite frankly, the service is quite a bit better. Check out the list that Microsoft compiled to encourage users to switch:

 

  • Broader device support for all platforms, including iPad and Android tablets
  • IM, video, and calling landlines and mobiles all in one place
  • Sharing screens
  • Video calling on mobile phones
  • Video calling with Facebook friends
  • Group video calling

Google Voice having trouble with SMS functionality

The Verge has reported that Google Voice, that wonderful--trust me, it is--service by Google which allows you to text through the internet, as well as make and receive calls from a single number, is having issues with its texting capabilities. Users on the Google Voice forums have reported that sending a text results in it being sent from a random number.

 

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Not only is every single text sent from a random number, responses sent to those texts never arrive back at the sender. One of the forum comments made the point that now would be the perfect time to do some pranking. This is unfortunate for this to be happening, as it makes texting through Google Voice basically impossible.

 

The problem occurs both in the Google Voice app, as well as on the website. The good news is that phone calls do not seem to be affected by this bug, so if that's all you use Google Voice for, you can carry on using it as if all was normal. We'll keep you updated as to the cause of this bug, if and when Google comments.

Kim Dotcom proposes new $400 million broadband plan for NZ

Well, Kim Dotcom is quite the great guy, isn't he? NZ Herald is reporting that the MegaUpload founder is proposing free broadband to the entire population of New Zealand, where he is looking to resurrect the Pacific Fibre cable connecting New Zealand with the US.

 

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Dotcom revealed the plans just 24 hours ago, which would cost $400 million to complete, but doubling New Zealand's bandwidth. It would set up his new Me.ga company, create countless jobs and a data center on offer to the rest of the world. Dotcom would provide New Zealand ISPs such as Telecom and Vodafone with free access for individual customers, and charge a fee for business and central government.

 

NZ residents would be charged a fee by ISPs, but it would be very, very low - down to around 1/5 of current broadband plans, and roughly three-to-five times faster, but best of all - no data limits. The $400 million would be partially funded by Me.ga, with the rest of the funds coming from investors.

Continue reading 'Kim Dotcom proposes new $400 million broadband plan for NZ' (full post)

AT&T and T-Mobile join forces in the wake of Sandy, share networks for benefit of users

Wireless giants T-Mobile and AT&T have come together, at least temporarily, for the benefit of customers affected by Hurricane Sandy. The storm which hit the northern east coast earlier this week has knocked out power and caused untold amounts of damage. People have been stuck at home by streets being flooded, with nothing to do as they have no internet, power, or cell service.

 

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This is where the partnership comes in. AT&T and T-Mobile have agreed to share networks temporarily so that users will be able to get more cell coverage in the affected areas. Since many of the cell towers of both networks have been affected by the storm, this is definitely a good move by the companies to create good will.

 

It's also just a really compassionate thing to do. It's great that the two companies use similar technology as it allows them to basically flip a switch at the main office to allow this roaming. Users will not have to do anything to make this happen and should be able to just reap the benefits of the expanded network.

UK government along with industry partners begin funding 5G network research

I've only begun to be impressed with 4G here in Australia, but we all know that the technology industry doesn't sleep with news that 5G research is now underway thanks to the UK government and industry partners.

 

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They've teamed up to create the 5G Innovation Centre, which is set to be established at the University of Surrey in the coming months, and will be funded in a joint effort between the UK government and a bunch of companies from the wireless tech industry.

 

The UK government has pledged $18.6 million or so, while another $38.5 million will come from partners found in Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica, Fujitsu, Rohde-Schwarz, and AIRCOM International. The goal of this 5G network research will be to make the UK the center of 5G network deployment, which could be even ten years or more away.

 

There's no details of what 5G would bring, but if 4G networks can reach 100Mbps, we should expect this to be at least 500Mbit (!). I'd expect full 1080p or even 4K streaming over this network, and by then we're going to need it. Excitement level - level 10 engaged.

Dish unveils dishNET broadband, uses sattelites to provide high-speed internet to rural areas

Users who live in rural parts of the United States will soon be able to get on the internet quite a bit quicker. DISH, one of the large US satellite TV providers, has launched a new internet service under the dishNET brand. Incredibly, the new service provides internet speeds of about double the average residential connection.

 

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"Many unserved and underserved markets are years away from a telco or cable broadband build out, but dishNET is available today," said Brian McIntyre, vice president of Broadband at DISH. "These services will have powerful, positive impacts for kids, educators, businesses, farmers and families -- no matter how far out of town they may choose to live."

 

As of October 1, users will be able to obtain a 5Mbps down/1Mbps up data connection for $39.99 a month with two year contract. That price does not include equipment fees. Unfortunately, there is a 10GB data cap on that line. Stepping up to $49.99/month yields a 10/1Mbps connection with a 20GB data cap.

 

To get the pricing shown above, you'll need the previously mentioned two-year contract. You'll also need to bundle the service with Dish's "America's top 120" package, or any more expensive TV package. Installation is free for any customer, new or existing, as long as the service is bundled with TV. Otherwise, you'll be looking at a $99 charge.

Time Warner Cable to invest $25 million on expanding the fiber network in New York City

In the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, Time Warner Cable are investing another $25 million into their fiber network to business customers in New York City. This investment will see networks constructed in Brooklyn, as well as the Financial and Flatiron districts.

 

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Time Warner Cable says that customers should expect to see speeds reach 1 gigabit per second. The high speeds are for business users who require it, uploading and downloading significantly large files can be time consuming, and in business, time is money. Fiber networks already established by the company in other sections of New York City have been enjoying the benefits of the fiber networks for a while now.

 

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is pushing this initiative, as part of a much bigger project that will include cooperation from Verizon, Cablevision Sytems, and AT&T, with the end goal of improving broadband services to underserved parts of the city. No pricing has been unveiled from Time Warner just yet, but comparing it to Google's 1Gbps down/up service in parts of Missouri and Kansas, it should hover around the $70 per month mark.

Telstra to increase 4G coverage across Australia

Telstra's 4G network sports some incredible speeds, but it's currently limited to in and around the capital cities of Australia. Of course, they aren't just sitting on their hands, with the telco announcing a huge expansion plan that will take place over the next 10 months which will see Telstra's 4G network cover 66% of the population of Australia by mid-2013. Telstra have provided a state-by-state breakdown:

 

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  • Brisbane: Coverage will stretch from Brisbane Airport in the East to Indooroopilly in the West and from Coopers Plains in the South to Chermside in the North.
  • Gold Coast: New coverage to span from Surfers Paradise in the East to Greystanes in the West and from Tugun in the South to Hope Island in the North.
  • Sydney: Telstra will double the existing Sydney coverage, spanning from Manly in the East to Greystanes in the West, and from Kogarah in the South to Hornsby in the North.
  • Canberra: Coverage will span from Queanbeyan in the East to Duffy in the West and from Farrer in the South to Moncreif in the North
  • Melbourne: Telstra is doubling the 4G coverage in Melbourne, with coverage to span from Ringwood in the East to Werribee in the West and from Bentleigh in the South to Epping in the North.

Continue reading 'Telstra to increase 4G coverage across Australia' (full post)

Stanford biologist and computer scientist discover ants use TCP-like communication

The work of a Stanford ant biologist, and a computer scientist have found that harvester ants on the hunt for food, use a similar method to that of the protocols used to control traffic on the Internet.

 

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Deborah Gordon, a biology professor at Stanford, have been studying ants for more than 20 years. When Gordon discovered how the harvester ant colonies were sending out more ants to get food, she called in Balaji Prabhakar, who is a professor of computer science at Stanford, who is an expert on how files are transferred on a computer network.

 

At first, he didn't know why Gordon had called him, as ants had nothing to do with his field, but the next day, he realised:

 

The next day it occurred to me, 'Oh wait, this is almost the same as how [Internet] protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for transferring a file! The algorithm the ants were using to discover how much food there is available is essentially the same as that used in the Transmission Control Protocol.

Continue reading 'Stanford biologist and computer scientist discover ants use TCP-like communication' (full post)

Researchers want to turn your WiFi into an emergency network for emergency crews

In an emergency, everyone seems to pull out a cellphone to try and contact both emergency personnel and family members. This causes problems for emergency crews who are trying to communicate. This is why researchers in Germany have suggested using personal wireless routers as a backup network.

 

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The idea is that emergency crews could flip a switch that would open up a network, similar to guest networks present on some routers, that could be used for voice and data services. The whole premise of this idea hinges on having near 100 percent coverage, which wouldn't be a problem in most medium-to-large cities.

 

"With a communication range of 30 meters, a mesh network could be easily constructed in urban areas like our hometown," said the research team. An "emergency switch would enable an open guest mode that on the one hand protects people's privacy, and on the other hand makes the existing communications resources available to first responders," says the paper.

 

However, potential security risks may prevent this from ever being instituted, though it will likely be investigated further. If a hacker were to gain access to the "emergency switch," they theoretically could have a network of access points from which to do other nefarious activity. And it's likely there would be no trace.

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